Saturday, February 16, 2013

All cash reserves are gone and is operating in arrears.

Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
By Jennifer Sorentrue
Published February 13, 2013
A small group of Century Village residents has called for the removal of the retirement community’s president, alleging the 7,000-unit condominium complex in suburban West Palm Beach has spent all of its cash reserves and is operating in arrears.

The group has filed a petition with the village’s master homeowners’ association, the United Civic Organization, urging the recall of its president, David Israel. The petition alleges Israel has presented the association with “unsubstantiated financial statements” and has not acted in the “best interest” of residents. It has been signed by more than 90 residents, according to the group.

Israel flatly denies the allegations. A Board of Inquiry created by the association to investigate ruled Thursday the claims were invalid. The village’s 350-member delegate assembly will vote on the matter Friday.

This is the second time in the village’s 40-year history residents have urged the recall of a UCO president. A petition was filed in 2003 but no action was taken against the president, Israel said.

At the center of the dispute is a $5 million project to repave the village’s road network and repair its drainage system. The homeowners’ association swept “virtually every dollar” from its budget to complete the project, Israel said.

Much of the reserve money had been set aside for the repairs.

Century Village resident Edward Grossman, a retired accountant who has led the charge to recall Israel, contends the project should have been completed in two phases. The move would have left the village with money in its reserves for emergencies and other projects, he said.

“It wasn’t supposed to be done,” Grossman said. “We didn’t have the money.”

An engineering report recommended the road and drainage project be completed in two phases. The first phase was to be done immediately, and the second phase would have been competed in one to three years. Israel said the association went against that recommendation because members feared the cost of escalating asphalt and other supplies would cause the project’s price tag to skyrocket by as much as $1 million.

“The reserves were spent to complete the entire task,” Israel wrote in an email to The Palm Beach Post. “In the new calendar year, we are indeed rebuilding all reserve lines.”

But Grossman and his group have other gripes. They say the association has not given them a proper forum to inform the village’s 14,000 residents about their recall effort.

The community north of Okeechobee Boulevard and west of Haverhill Road has more residents than many small cities and towns.

Grossman says it is difficult to reach homeowners without access to the association’s email list. Israel, who runs a private blog about the village, has an unfair advantage because he can post information to sway residents, Grossman said. Israel has written about the recall effort on his blog.

Grossman and his group cited the blog in their petition to recall Israel.

Israel said the complaint is “absurd.” The blog, he said, provides residents with a valuable public forum.

“For the sin of opening up an unrestricted communications channel for our residents, I am to be removed from office,” Israel wrote on the blog. “Give me a break.”

Grossman also accuses the association of withholding information about the Board of Inquiry and stacking it with members who support Israel. Frustrated with the process, Grossman and two other residents walked out of the inquiry meeting on Thursday after members dismissed three of nine complaints filed against Israel.

“Our feeling is that we have been done-in,” said Grossman, who has lived in the village with his wife for the last five years. “This is like a banana republic.”

Israel says Grossman and his group “simply like to fight.” Two petitioners working with Grossman served as vice presidents of the association and have failed to be re-elected, Israel said.

“They enjoy pot-stirring and want to lead the parade, but most folks, ‘the silent majority,’ are sick and tired of their tactics,” Israel wrote in an email to the Post.